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OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL CELEBRATES                       DIAMOND JUBILEE OF EXISTENCE

Business

  1. INTRODUCTION

The year 2023 marks the milestone of 60 years of audit service by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG).  OAG is the Supreme Audit Institution in Lesotho. Since its establishment on 1 April, 1963, it has played a pivotal role in the promotion of public accountability, transparency, and value for money in the public sector.  

  • EVOLUTION AND ESTABLISHMENT

The audit service in Lesotho has existed since colonial times. The then Governor-General of South Africa who was also the British High Commissioner, was administering the High Commission Territories of  Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (now Eswatini). The Director of Audit for those High Commission Territories was based in Maseru, Lesotho.

The independent Basutoland audit office was established on 1 April 1963 under the Director of Audit, Mr. Donald Ernest Bragg, who served until 1970. The same year, the title of Director of Audit was changed to Auditor-General. During that period of establishment, four Basotho auditors were already in the employ of the Audit Office performing auditing functions. Those auditors who are all the late, Mr. Dyke Tarr, Mr. Mohau Khali, Mr. Kobeli Molemohi, and Mr. Moshoeshoe Tlalajoe.   

Mr. Bragg relinquished the post in 1970 and was succeeded by Mr. Neville Harrison as the Auditor-General from 1970 to 1972. The first Mosotho to hold the position of Auditor-General was the late Mr. Dyke Tarr from 1973 to 1985, and since then, Lesotho citizens have held the position of the Auditor-General. The late Mr. Salae P. Molapo served as the Auditor-General from 1985 to 1994 and was succeeded by Mr. Matsobane Putsoa who held the position from 1995 to 1997.  The late Mr. David Lepitikoe was appointed in 1997 and held the position to 2002.

When Mr. Lepitikoe left the office in 2002, Mrs. Limakatso Lucy Liphafa acted in the position of the Auditor-General until 2004, when she made history as the first woman in Lesotho, to be appointed as the Auditor-General and also the longest serving to date, in that position, which she vacated in 2020.

Ms. Monica Besetsa acted in the vacant position of the Auditor-General from September 2020 until July 2022. Mrs. Mafani Masoabi acted from that period until the appointment of the substantive holder, Ms. Mathabo Gail Makenete on 30th January 2023, to date.

  • ACHIEVEMENTS

As already stated, the OAG’s roots are traced back to Lesotho’s post-independence era, when the country recognised the need for a strong oversight body to ensure accountability and transparency of public resources. Over the years, the OAG has evolved into an important oversight institution, playing the pivotal role of improving governance and promoting fiscal responsibility across the nation. The Office has also evolved to meet the changing demands of Lesotho’s public sector, expanding its scope to include auditing of public enterprises, local government entities, and development partner-funded projects.

The following are some of the notable achievements of the office over the past 60 years:-

  • Promoting Accountability and Transparency

The OAG has demonstrated unwavering commitment to uphold accountability and transparency in the use of public resources. Through its auditing processes, the Office identifies irregularities, inefficiencies, and instances of mismanagement of public funds. This has led to the identification of significant amounts of misappropriated funds and discouraging further corrupt practices.

  • Fostering Good Governance

The OAG has been instrumental in promoting good governance practices in Lesotho. By auditing government institutions and recommending improvements in financial management and governance systems, the OAG has played a crucial role in enhancing public administration and strengthening the rule of law. Its recommendations have helped to shape legislation and policies aimed at ensuring transparency, integrity, and accountability in the public sector finances.

  •  Building Capacity and Collaboration

To achieve its mandate effectively, OAG has prioritised building capacity within its workforce. Over the years, the Office has invested in training its auditors and support staff, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their tasks efficiently. Furthermore, the office has fostered collaborations with other auditing bodies regionally and internationally, nourishing an environment of knowledge sharing, of best practices and ultimately enhancing its audit capabilities. The Office has also audited international organisations like the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Southern African Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (SADCOPAC).

  • Engaging with the Public

Recognising the importance of engaging and educating the public, the OAG has made concerted efforts to increase awareness of the role it plays. Through public reports, media campaigns, and stakeholder engagements, the Office strives to disseminate audit findings and recommendations to the general public. By doing so, it empowers citizens to demand transparency and accountability, resulting in increased public participation in governance processes.

  • CHALLENGES

As much as there were achievements, it is important to recognise the challenges the institution has faced throughout its journey to promote transparency, accountability, and good governance. Overcoming these obstacles has been crucial in enabling the OAG to fulfil its mandate, and contribute to Lesotho’s development.

  • Legal and Regulatory

Whilst the Audit Act, 2016 gave the Office enhanced independence, this is still limited. Reporting of the Auditor-General directly to Parliament needs to be addressed, and Financial autonomy is lacking and will need to be improved going forward.

  • Limited Resources

A significant challenge faced by the OAG has been the scarcity of resources necessary to carry out its audits effectively. Insufficient funding and staffing levels have at times hindered the office’s capacity to conduct comprehensive and timely audits across the public sector. The OAG has continuously advocated for increased resources to fulfil its mandate adequately.

  • Technological Infrastructure

The rapid advancement of technology has presented both opportunities and challenges for the OAG. The lack of a robust technological infrastructure has been an on-going challenge for the OAG.

5.     LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

After 60 years of service, the OAG remains committed to growing and adapting to the evolving challenges of the public sector. With the advent of technology and the changing audit landscape, the Office seeks to leverage innovative computer-assisted audit tools and techniques to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency. Additionally, it aims to continue strengthening partnerships at the national level, with other assurance-providing agencies, as well as at the international level with other Supreme Audit Institutions and agencies, to ensure the highest standards of auditing practices.

  • CONCLUSION

Through it all, sweet and bitter, OAG has persevered, demonstrating resilience and determination in fulfilling its mandate. Through innovation, collaboration, and the dedication of its staff, the Office has overcome numerous obstacles, leaving a lasting impact on Lesotho’s governance landscape. The Office therefore pays tribute to men and women who have passed the baton from one generation to another for six decades in ensuring accountability, transparency, and good governance in Lesotho’s public sector.

The OAG also acknowledges the support of various Government Ministries and Agencies, Lesotho’s Development Partners, Civil Society Organisations, and the Media, in assisting the Office to carry out its mandate. Its commitment through the support received, in upholding integrity, identifying misuse of public resources, and driving positive change, has left an indelible mark on the country.

As it celebrates its diamond jubilee, the Office of the Auditor-General stands to continue its mission and contribute to the socio-economic development of Lesotho for years to come. OAG envisions a Lesotho where transparency and accountability are deeply ingrained in the fabric of governance.

OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL CELEBRATES                       DIAMOND JUBILEE OF EXISTENCE

  1. INTRODUCTION

The year 2023 marks the milestone of 60 years of audit service by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG).  OAG is the Supreme Audit Institution in Lesotho. Since its establishment on 1 April, 1963, it has played a pivotal role in the promotion of public accountability, transparency, and value for money in the public sector.  

  • EVOLUTION AND ESTABLISHMENT

The audit service in Lesotho has existed since colonial times. The then Governor-General of South Africa who was also the British High Commissioner, was administering the High Commission Territories of  Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (now Eswatini). The Director of Audit for those High Commission Territories was based in Maseru, Lesotho.

The independent Basutoland audit office was established on 1 April 1963 under the Director of Audit, Mr. Donald Ernest Bragg, who served until 1970. The same year, the title of Director of Audit was changed to Auditor-General. During that period of establishment, four Basotho auditors were already in the employ of the Audit Office performing auditing functions. Those auditors who are all the late, Mr. Dyke Tarr, Mr. Mohau Khali, Mr. Kobeli Molemohi, and Mr. Moshoeshoe Tlalajoe.   

Mr. Bragg relinquished the post in 1970 and was succeeded by Mr. Neville Harrison as the Auditor-General from 1970 to 1972. The first Mosotho to hold the position of Auditor-General was the late Mr. Dyke Tarr from 1973 to 1985, and since then, Lesotho citizens have held the position of the Auditor-General. The late Mr. Salae P. Molapo served as the Auditor-General from 1985 to 1994 and was succeeded by Mr. Matsobane Putsoa who held the position from 1995 to 1997.  The late Mr. David Lepitikoe was appointed in 1997 and held the position to 2002.

When Mr. Lepitikoe left the office in 2002, Mrs. Limakatso Lucy Liphafa acted in the position of the Auditor-General until 2004, when she made history as the first woman in Lesotho, to be appointed as the Auditor-General and also the longest serving to date, in that position, which she vacated in 2020.

Ms. Monica Besetsa acted in the vacant position of the Auditor-General from September 2020 until July 2022. Mrs. Mafani Masoabi acted from that period until the appointment of the substantive holder, Ms. Mathabo Gail Makenete on 30th January 2023, to date.

  • ACHIEVEMENTS

As already stated, the OAG’s roots are traced back to Lesotho’s post-independence era, when the country recognised the need for a strong oversight body to ensure accountability and transparency of public resources. Over the years, the OAG has evolved into an important oversight institution, playing the pivotal role of improving governance and promoting fiscal responsibility across the nation. The Office has also evolved to meet the changing demands of Lesotho’s public sector, expanding its scope to include auditing of public enterprises, local government entities, and development partner-funded projects.

The following are some of the notable achievements of the office over the past 60 years:-

  • Promoting Accountability and Transparency

The OAG has demonstrated unwavering commitment to uphold accountability and transparency in the use of public resources. Through its auditing processes, the Office identifies irregularities, inefficiencies, and instances of mismanagement of public funds. This has led to the identification of significant amounts of misappropriated funds and discouraging further corrupt practices.

  • Fostering Good Governance

The OAG has been instrumental in promoting good governance practices in Lesotho. By auditing government institutions and recommending improvements in financial management and governance systems, the OAG has played a crucial role in enhancing public administration and strengthening the rule of law. Its recommendations have helped to shape legislation and policies aimed at ensuring transparency, integrity, and accountability in the public sector finances.

  •  Building Capacity and Collaboration

To achieve its mandate effectively, OAG has prioritised building capacity within its workforce. Over the years, the Office has invested in training its auditors and support staff, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their tasks efficiently. Furthermore, the office has fostered collaborations with other auditing bodies regionally and internationally, nourishing an environment of knowledge sharing, of best practices and ultimately enhancing its audit capabilities. The Office has also audited international organisations like the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Southern African Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (SADCOPAC).

  • Engaging with the Public

Recognising the importance of engaging and educating the public, the OAG has made concerted efforts to increase awareness of the role it plays. Through public reports, media campaigns, and stakeholder engagements, the Office strives to disseminate audit findings and recommendations to the general public. By doing so, it empowers citizens to demand transparency and accountability, resulting in increased public participation in governance processes.

  • CHALLENGES

As much as there were achievements, it is important to recognise the challenges the institution has faced throughout its journey to promote transparency, accountability, and good governance. Overcoming these obstacles has been crucial in enabling the OAG to fulfil its mandate, and contribute to Lesotho’s development.

  • Legal and Regulatory

Whilst the Audit Act, 2016 gave the Office enhanced independence, this is still limited. Reporting of the Auditor-General directly to Parliament needs to be addressed, and Financial autonomy is lacking and will need to be improved going forward.

  • Limited Resources

A significant challenge faced by the OAG has been the scarcity of resources necessary to carry out its audits effectively. Insufficient funding and staffing levels have at times hindered the office’s capacity to conduct comprehensive and timely audits across the public sector. The OAG has continuously advocated for increased resources to fulfil its mandate adequately.

  • Technological Infrastructure

The rapid advancement of technology has presented both opportunities and challenges for the OAG. The lack of a robust technological infrastructure has been an on-going challenge for the OAG.

5.     LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

After 60 years of service, the OAG remains committed to growing and adapting to the evolving challenges of the public sector. With the advent of technology and the changing audit landscape, the Office seeks to leverage innovative computer-assisted audit tools and techniques to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency. Additionally, it aims to continue strengthening partnerships at the national level, with other assurance-providing agencies, as well as at the international level with other Supreme Audit Institutions and agencies, to ensure the highest standards of auditing practices.

  • CONCLUSION

Through it all, sweet and bitter, OAG has persevered, demonstrating resilience and determination in fulfilling its mandate. Through innovation, collaboration, and the dedication of its staff, the Office has overcome numerous obstacles, leaving a lasting impact on Lesotho’s governance landscape. The Office therefore pays tribute to men and women who have passed the baton from one generation to another for six decades in ensuring accountability, transparency, and good governance in Lesotho’s public sector.

The OAG also acknowledges the support of various Government Ministries and Agencies, Lesotho’s Development Partners, Civil Society Organisations, and the Media, in assisting the Office to carry out its mandate. Its commitment through the support received, in upholding integrity, identifying misuse of public resources, and driving positive change, has left an indelible mark on the country.

As it celebrates its diamond jubilee, the Office of the Auditor-General stands to continue its mission and contribute to the socio-economic development of Lesotho for years to come. OAG envisions a Lesotho where transparency and accountability are deeply ingrained in the fabric of governance.

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